Last summer I found myself on a July Saturday afternoon in Stillwater, Minnesota. Stillwater is a town near Minneapolis on the St. Croix River. Stillwater is a town of book dealers. In Loome's Theological Books I came across "The Paschal Mystery" by Louis Bouyer for the first time. Bouyer was an extremely influential twentieth century French liturgical scholar. I knew his name from seminary days, but I did not know this book. It was published in France in 1947 and in England in 1951. The book begins with an introduction entitled, "The Christian Mystery." The page begins with these words,
To say that the Easter observances are the center of the ecclesiastical year leaves much untold: they are the center where all liturgy converges and the spring whence it all flows. All Christian worship is but a continuous celebration of Easter . . .
What struck me about the book was not what it said. This stuff is pretty standard thinking today. What impressed me was when it was written. My guess is that there were only a handful of people in the Christian world capable of putting these thoughts together in 1947. Lots of theological books were being written that year; but few went to the heart of what would prove to be one of the centers of Christian thinking and practice for the next fifty years.
In 1947 no one had thought of Vatican II. Few in the Episcopal Church could have imagined the reshaping of the common life of the Church that was to come. A lot of very useful thinking was going on fifty years ago, but a lot of it was ultimately beside the point. My personal library is full of theological books that should just be thrown away.
As the new rector of Saint Mary's I am getting my appropriate share of questions about what I think is important for the future of the community. Lots of things are important. I take faithfulness to the catholic faith as a given. We will be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I also think we should always ask whenever possible the question what is the best thinking about faith, Christian community, worship, service and all other aspects of our common life.
There are lots of things I like and don't like. I have loads of personal preferences. But when it comes to my work, my health, my financial responsibilities, I try to do what I think, not what I feel, is best. As a church community, when decisions come before us, we should be aware of our preferences; it is good to know what one likes and dislikes. It can also be important to choose to put our preference behind for something that makes better sense.
I have been amazed by how many people make remarks to me that presume I have a great number of agendas for the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, conversational remarks that go by so fast I have no way to respond to them. I am and will be influenced by my experience and my preferences. I want you to know that I think I am interested honestly and seriously in asking what is the best thinking about a subject when appropriate.
The best doesn't always look the way we expect it to look. My guess is that in 1951 most Roman Catholic Christians thought the best had something to do with getting at least to purgatory and then getting out of there in the shortest amount of time. Easter didn't really play into it very much. But Easter is starting to overwhelm the Church, our denomination and others. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the center of everything. He is the best. He always seemed to love things people didn't expect him to love. With humility and in the right way I think you and I should be looking for the best. Life is too great a gift, too precious and too short to waste more than our fallen sinfulness steals from us. Stephen Gerth
PARISH PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty in Kosovo and for Shirley, Mark, Maria, Ellen, Louise, Dorothy, Warren, Thomas, Robin, Shawn, George, Richard, Anthony, Karen, Margaret, Ken, John, Nel, Daisy, Michael, Maxine, Gloria, Nina, Mary Ellen, Walter, Pearl, Rodney, priest, and Maurice, priest, and for the repose of the souls of Thelma, Joyce and Ralph.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 31: 1995 Louis Stephen Stancill.
FROM THE PARISH REGISTER . . . Letters of Transfer were sent in April to the church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, New York City, for Gilbert Cattell and Christopher Pyles. Letters of Transfer were received for George Morris Dolby from Christ Church, Hudson, New York, and for Henry Spangler from the Church of the Epiphany, New York City. Letters of Transfer to the parish are pending for several others.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Genesis 1:1-2:3, Psalm 150, 2 Corinthians 13:5-14, Matthew 28:16-20 . . . 9:00 Celebrant & Preacher Father Parker, 10:00 Celebrant & Preacher Father Shin, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher The Rector, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher, Father Shin . . . On Saturday, May 29, Father Smith will hear confessions. On Saturday, June 5, Father Shin will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We have received a note of thanks from The Momentum Aids Project for the gift of our Maundy Thursday offering . . . The Rector enjoyed bringing the Holy Communion to Mr. Thomas Haines last week. Mr. Haines is ninety-seven years old and has been a member of Saint Mary's since 1946. If someone needs or wishes Holy Communion at home please call the parish office . . . Congratulations to Andrew Thompson who was graduated last week from the School of Law at Columbia University . . . Jim Touchton has an exhibition of his new paintings and works on paper at the Fischbach Gallery, 24 West 57th Street, through June 26th . . . Michael Reid, a member of the parish and former choir member, will be singing in four operas this summer in Central Park/Summerstage. Michael will also be appearing in Bellini's Sonnambula with the Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall in June . . . Memorial Day, May 30, is a federal holiday. It is also the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But because it is Memorial Day there will only be the noontime services, Noonday Prayer at 12:00 PM and Mass at 12:15 PM. The church is only open on federal holidays from 11:30 PM to 1:00 PM . . . On Trinity Sunday the nursery furniture and a selection of toys will be in Saint Benedict's study and the nursery will be held there instead of the morning room . . . Attendance last Sunday: 164.
TO HONOR KEN COWAN . . . Please join us at coffee this Trinity Sunday following the Solemn Mass as we honor our Assistant Organist Ken Cowan. Last Monday Yale University conferred upon him a Master of Music degree and we are so proud of his accomplishment. Most of us are aware of Ken's fantastic talent, good nature and fine manners. This is a chance to congratulate him and to celebrate the fact that he will be with us next season as he continues at Yale in pursuit of an Artist's Diploma. You may know that Ken is from Canada. In July he will be playing the open concert for the Royal Canadian College of Organists Convention in Hamilton, Ontario.
IN THIS SINFUL WORLD . . . Recently there have been two thefts from the kitchen area of parishioner belongings. It's not right. We wish it didn't happen. We probably can't prevent it. Please be aware of your things in necessarily public buildings.
CLERGY NOTES . . . The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa is well known to the parish community at Saint Mary's but was not well known to me. I no longer remember why I did not list his name as an assisting priest when I started as rector. Maybe I did a delete without knowing it. Anyway, Father was here and is here and I have managed to get his name on the list again! S.G.
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