Looking into the Future
Recent guests at the rectory have endured me showing some of the historical materials that are in the parlor library. Among them are some bound volumes of service programs from the first few decades of this century and lists of music sung in the church in the nineteenth century. There are wonderful photographs of some of my predecessors, including a haunting and slightly faded photograph of an aged Father Barry, rector from 1909-1929. I see in my own face the changes of age. I actually think of myself as a person with brown hair. My hair has been a different color for a long time now. It is not easy for me to look into the future and imagine reality.
I try to be a person with some self-awareness; but I am also a busy person. I don't spend a lot of time analyzing myself or others. I tend to be a doer. But I do know that in all likelihood I will not always be able to jog and I use this information to help myself enjoy jogging now. I know that there will come a day when I won't want to travel as much as I do now. Someday lunch will be the main meal of the day and supper will be a very light meal. Surely there will be changes in my spiritual life and how I understand and think about God, about the gift of life and about other people.
Last Sunday, following the spectacular Procession of the Image of Our Lady of Walsingham through Times Square and Solemn Mass a visitor from a southern state remarked to me that although his rector had told him that Saint Mary's wasn't as "spikey" as it used to be. He said, "He was wrong. It is!" My spur of the moment response to him was something like, "Saint Mary's defines what it is to be high church. Always has. Always will." I wish I had said something else. I wish I had been able to convey that I wasn't as interested in the various outward signs of who we are as I am in the true presence of the Lord in whom we live.
There are many wonderful moments in the New Testament that convey the particular sense of peace and joy one experiences when the community of faith is gathered and when the community of faith is aware of the presence of Christ. One which is striking for me is recounted in the last chapter of John's gospel. The disciples are together. Peter announces he is going fishing. The others go with him. Jesus appears on the beach as the day is breaking. At first he is just another person; then after Jesus speaks to them they recognize his presence.
I hope our friend from Washington enjoyed the richness of the liturgy on Sunday and the warmth of our welcome to him. Even more, I hope he was able to focus not on the details but on the presence of the Lord in his people. I can't ever imagine that I will be the kind of priest who eschews traditional forms of worship; but I would like to be a Christian who is able easily to focus on the substance conveyed by the signs. Jesus, "being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Luke 17:20-21). I hope in the future to grow in my ability to see this kingdom. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for William and Richard who are hospitalized and for Barbara, Hilda, Walter, Eileen, Maxine, Edward, Mary Ann, Margaret, Scot, Shirley, Mark, Dorothy, Warren, Karen, Victoria, Frank, Florinda, Myrian, Charmaine, and Rodney, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . August 22: 1949 Mattie Myrtle Jones, 1997 Charles Bertram Harmon; August 24: 1959 Mabel Lenora Heyny; August: 25 1971 Elvira Herg Oxy, 1983 Arthur Atkinson III, 1990 Eliphal B. Streeter.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 51:1-6, Psalm 138, Romans 11:33-36, Matthew 16:13-20 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: The Rector, 10:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin. 11:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: The Rector. 5:00 PM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin . . . On Saturday, August 21, Canon Garrison will hear confessions. On Saturday, August 28, Father Gerth will hear confessions.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . As we go to press, William Poston is at Beth Israel Hospital. He had a kidney removed on Tuesday, August 17. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Our seminarian Richard Lawson had an emergency appendectomy on Monday evening, August 18. He's at Mother Cabrini Hospital and is doing very well . . . On a much less serious note, the Rector has a cold and he is therefore very thankful that Father Shin is well and is able to visit the hospitals! . . . Always there are many, many people to thank after a major feast at Saint Mary's. Always it is not possible really to do this. But, our Lady knows and she is telling her Son. He gets it all written down in the Book that matters. Your parish clergy can only say to you, "Thank you" . . . Attendance last Sunday: 257.
SUMMARY OF AUGUST 9, 1999, BOARD MEETING . . . At its August meeting, the Board of Trustees: Approved a proposal to replace and upgrade the telephone system in the parish complex, at a cost not to exceed $14,000; approved a proposal to repair a roof leak in the Parish House over the Curate’s apartment, at a cost of $8,590; discussed the need for committees to deal with situations at the Church; heard from the Rector about the need for a priest assistant; discussed plans for the upcoming Board retreat, which will be held on Friday and Saturday, September 10 and 11; discussed how to maximize stewardship, focusing on the fall stewardship campaign, which will commence with a parish dinner with entertainment that will follow Solemn Mass on Sunday, October 17. (A goal will be to increase the number of parishioners who pledge to the Church. Currently there are over 200 people on the rolls at St. Mary’s, but this year there were only 73 pledging units.) L. Sharer
NOT SO FAIR LINEN . . . In almost any Episcopal parish church you will find a white linen altar cloth, usually called the "fair linen." These cloths are generally sewn by hand, embroidered with five crosses and beautifully laundered and ironed. The cloths themselves are expensive and last for decades. One of the things I noticed when I came here was that the linens would arrive on the altar beautifully done and rather quickly become wrinkled and dirty. I have finally discovered how this happens. In order to put on or change an altar frontal (the colored hanging on the front side of the altar), it is necessary to remove all of the altar cloths (the dust cover, the fair linen and the undercloth). I have given instructions that until some other arrangements are made that the altar frontal is not to be changed (that is, the fair linen is not to be touched!) unless a member of the clergy is present. If the altar frontal happens to be gone, please understand it is temporary. S.G.
FROM THE ARCHIVES . . . (The following passage is from the service bulletin for Sunday, December 21, 1930. The Reverend Granville Mercer Williams, S.S.J.E. has been rector of the parish for less than three months.) After prolonged and thoughtful consideration the Rector has come to the conclusion that it will be to the best interest of the parish to cease holding a public midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Doubtless there will be a number of parishioners who will regret this decision. There is a certain indescribable beauty about the midnight Mass which appeals to everyone and which is manifested by the very large congregations which are always present whenever Mass is celebrated at that hour. It is more than doubtful, however, whether among the great crowds of persons who present themselves at the altar at a midnight Mass, all are properly prepared for receiving Holy Communion. Especially must this be true at a service held at our own church which is in the very heart of the theatrical district of this great city. Surely, it is far more acceptable to God that those who make their communion on the birthday of our Lord and Saviour should do so well prepared, even though their numbers are less than would be the case if we were to have a Mass at midnight. To rise early in the morning and to come then to meet the Christ Child seems more fitting than to come to the Mass at the end of an evening of secular occupations. The midnight Mass has been held in this parish for only the past two or three years. It is in no sense a tradition of the parish, and it is felt that those who have come to love the midnight Mass will gladly forego this pleasure if more worthy honour can be shown to our blessed Lord. Make THAT, if need be, your Christmas gift to Jesus Christ. (For the record, the present rector of the parish has proposed to set 11:00 PM as the time for the midnight Mass on Christmas Eve 1999. He must make a final decision about this before September 15 due to the publication schedule of AVE. And, also for the record, the midnight Mass was restored at Saint Mary's the following year, Christmas 1931. So popular was the midnight Mass here that tickets were required for admission.)
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 Fourteenth Week after Pentecost
Tuesday Saint Bartholomew the Apostle
Wednesday Saint Louis of France
Saturday Saint Augustine of Hippo
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.