The phrase "Christian education" is widely used and in general usage brings to mind something of the common classroom experience that is inflicted on most American children. Indeed, most members of the Episcopal Church have sat through classes at some point in time that went into great detail about the names of objects in Christian churches, the sequence of colors for seasonal church decoration and the proper way to address members of the clergy. Some Episcopalians have even experienced Bible study and are familiar with the basic Biblical narrative. For most of the present century you could count on Episcopalians being schooled in "churchmanship." The words of the Gospel were words, familiar perhaps, but essentially words. Christ's essential invitation to us was to something more.
For most of the present millennium, and especially since the Reformation and Counterreformation, the Christian Church largely lost the ability to celebrate the liturgical act. Instead of the liturgy bringing the Christian community together to be the Body of Christ, the experience became different forms of religious theater and dramatic presentation.
What were the essential differences between a Roman Catholic Mass and a Baptist Sunday service in 1950? In both services the congregation observed the service more than participated. The average Roman Catholic and the average Baptist both received Communion once a month. Catholics prayed the rosary and did devotions; Baptists sang hymns. (At Saint Mary's the congregation would not even be invited to receive Holy Communion at the Solemn Mass!) The liturgical act, the gathering of the Christian community to be the Body of Christ and to experience itself as the Body of Christ, was for the most part unknown.
I am the oldest of three children, and except for an unfortunate phase when my young parents insisted that I eat canned peas and used the considerable emotional resources at their disposal to compel me to do so (which I will not let them forget!), they were for the most part content to let me and my siblings ignore foods that made their way onto the dining room table. I don't eat Velveeta "cheese" anymore, but I confess I used to like it on broccoli at a time when an asparagus spear did not cross my mouth. The desire to eat, however, has always been with me. Opportunities arise to try new foods. The repertory of foods I enjoy continues to expand. I don't think I've been served Velveeta once since I arrived in New York. The asparagus I ignored as a child is my favorite vegetable.
People can push away new foods; I know many people who are afraid of new foods, and I'm not talking sea snails or sweetbreads but fruits, grains and vegetables. I also know many Christians who work hard to distance themselves from any sense that they or their Christian community is about being the Body of Christ or that Christianity is a corporate, not an individualist, religion.
I don't believe we live in a world that isn't interested in religion. I think we live in a world where many have lost the knowledge that the world itself is inherently religious. We live in a world where the seduction of power and material prosperity and the fear of the lack of these things often obscure the ability of people to respond to their innate respect and understanding of the gift of life.
Jesus came to call us and all people out of the way of sin and death and into the way of death and life. People kept Jesus at a distance. His words and deeds did not convince them; neither did his death. It was his death and resurrection and the invitation to die and rise with him that brought people to faith in God and what God had done in their own lives.
Isn't there a phrase in one of our hymns that is a petition that we will believe the words we pray? I can't bring it to mind but I think that's the invitation of the liturgy and of Christ himself, to believe the words we pray. It's not saying the right words in the right way; it's not really about just learning the meaning of the words. It's about being the Body of Christ. That's the invitation. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Barbara, Hilda, Walter, Eileen, Maxine, Edward, Mary Ann, Margaret, Scot, Shirley, Mark, Dorothy, Warren, Karen, Victoria, Frank, Florinda, Myrian, Charmaine, and Rodney, priest, and for the repose of the soul of John . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 15: 1963 Rose Macchia; 1971 Elvira Oyx.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . We have received word that Martin Cowart's father, John Martin Cowart, Jr., died on Monday, August 9, in Albany, Georgia. Please pray for John, for Martin and for all who mourn.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Proper for the Assumption of Saint Mary the Virgin: Isaiah 61:10-11, Psalm 34:1-9, Galatians 4:4-7, Luke 1:46-55 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin, 10:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: The Rector. 11:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: The Rector. 5:00 PM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin . . . On Saturday, August 14, Father Shin will hear confessions. On Saturday, August 21, Canon Garrison will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Quentin Lane, twelfth music director and organist of Saint Mary's, will be our guest recitalist this Sunday, August 15, at 10:30 AM. His program includes music of Bach and Franck . . . As we go to press, the weather forecast for Sunday is good. Weather permitting there will be a procession through Times Square at the beginning of the Solemn Mass! . . . Barbara Stettner reports that her physician is very pleased with the results of her surgery last week. Please keep Barbara in your prayers . . . Sign of the Times: The word "unchastity" is not in the spell check file of WORD; but the brand name "Velveeta" is . . . Attendance last Sunday, 139.
Worship at Saint Mary’s
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 between 11:30 and 12:00 and between 4:00 and 5:00. Appointments can also be made with members of the parish clergy for the Reconciliation of Penitents at other times.
The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
The Calendar of the Thirteenth Week after Pentecost
Friday Saint Bernard, abbot
Saturday Of Our Lady
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector, The Reverend Allen Shin, curate,
The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.