Looking to the Triduum
I’ve been reading Louis Gerstner’s account of his work at IBM, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround. It’s a very good read. When he arrived at IBM, the company did not lack for talent. It had a culture problem, in a nutshell. Too much of its corporate life had begun to take on a life of its own, independent of the needs of its customers. One famous example was the IBM company dress code: suits, white shirts, conservative ties. The dress code originated because forty years earlier that’s the way customers wanted and expected IBM salesmen to look. The world changed. IBM didn’t. Over time the code became unrelated to the expectations of the customers it had originally been designed to serve. This kind of thing happens over and over again in corporations, institutions and families, and of course in the Church.
I expect pretty soon to read about “innovative” parishes that are moving the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday to Tuesday in Holy Week. What they’re missing of course is a fundamental experience and understanding of Easter. For too many, the individual services of Holy Week and Easter have become something like the IBM dress code, origin and purpose forgotten. Easter, of course, is not a Sunday morning thing. It’s just part of the “Easter Triduum” – three days, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day.
In Christian tradition these days are reckoned according to the Hebrew calendar. These days begin and end at sunset, as days did for Jesus and the disciples. Lent ends at sunset on Maundy Thursday then the first of the Three Days begins and goes until sunset on Friday. The second day begins at sunset on Friday. The Third Day, the day of Resurrection, begins on Saturday evening. The Three Days end on the Third Day while the Church is celebrating Evensong in an ancient form, “Solemn Paschal Vespers.”
Lots of folks never do Easter because they only show up for the next to the last course, as it were, of this great banquet, the Solemn Mass of Easter Sunday morning. Lots of other folks miss a great deal of the meal because they have never been able to surrender themselves to the tremendously powerful rites of the Easter Triduum, the Washing of Feet on Maundy Thursday, the Watch before the Blessed Sacrament, or the Veneration of the Cross. Sometimes people miss Easter because of their own willfulness. Sometimes they miss it because they have no idea what is possible.
I urge you to plan now to be at Saint Mary’s for the Easter Triduum— the whole thing— for yourself, and for others. You and I together are Christ’s Body in this place. To the extent that any are absent, to the extent that any are not fed, to the extent that any do not join in the rites, the Body is not whole. In the Church’s great tradition, Easter is not an article of faith or an intellectual exercise. It is the way in which Jesus Christ still rises from the dead and shares his risen and eternal life with all people. Let those who have eyes to see see.
As many of you know, this year the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, will be at Saint Mary’s to celebrate and preach at the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord at 6:00 PM on Good Friday and the Great Vigil of Easter on Easter Eve. This is a place where Christian rite is celebrated with integrity. We do not do “scenes” from the liturgical tradition. It is here in full.
I am so excited about Easter this year that I will probably have a very good Lent. By this I don’t mean that I expect to be good at giving up something. I get plenty of church during Lent. I love it. I think I am so excited about Easter that my heart will have some renewed spiritual clarity during Lent about Easter and about life. It is God’s greatest gift and we know that because he has revealed it to us in his Son Jesus Christ. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Adele who is hospitalized and for Bart, Nora, Velma June, Kenneth, Jack, Thomas, Sarah, Grover, Annie, Patricia, Paul, Robert, Eileen, Gloria, Jerri, Margaret, Marion, Olga, Rick, Charles, priest, and Paul, bishop, for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Timothy, Patrick, Edward, Keith, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Mark, Ned, Timothy, David and John . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 26: 1994 Milledge Polo Mosley.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 43:18-25, Psalm 32:1-8, 2 Corinthians 1:18-22, Mark 2:1-12 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 22, by Father Gerth and on Saturday, March 1, by Father Smith.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This week at the Solemn Mass, the prelude will be Cantilène Improvisée by Charles Tournemire (1870-1939), and reconstructed by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986). The postlude will be Antiphon I from Op. 18 by Marcel Dupré (1886-1971). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘in illo tempore’ by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) and the motet at Communion is Iubilate Deo by Cipriano de Rore (1515/16-1565). We continue our organ recital series before Solemn Evensong & Benediction. This week, we welcome Mr. Richard Latham of Grace Church, Broadway, who will play works of Böhm and Mendelssohn.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Due to inclement weather, the Board of Trustees meeting was postponed until Monday, February 24 . . . Father Weiler will be on vacation February 22 through March 1 . . . Reserve your spot for the March 20-23 Lenten Retreat at Mount Saviour Monastery. Speak to Penny Byham or e-mail her at email@example.com . . . Sean Cassidy (one day) and Pat Higgins (three days!) were here this week continuing the renovation of the smoke room (that’s the room where we prepare thuribles and coals for offering incense). Sean, Pat, many thanks! . . . In addition to his work at the Episcopal Church Center, Rick Miranda is also the coordinator for Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission. In that capacity, Rick will be accompanying the presiding bishop and others on a trip to Cuba, February 23 through March 3. The Episcopal Church of Cuba will meet during this trip, and that church is expected to vote on a new relationship with the Episcopal Church in the United States . . . Holy Baptism will be celebrated during the 11:00 AM Mass on Sunday, March 2. William Bingham, the son of Jonathan and April Bingham, will be baptized . . . The Annual Meeting of the Congregation will be held on Sunday, March 9, following the 11:00 AM Mass . . . Attendance last Sunday 260.
MARCH 8 ORDINATIONS . . . On Saturday, March 8 at 10:30 AM at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, the Bishop of New York will ordain five persons as transitional deacons. Our own John Beddingfield will be among them. Please come and support John and represent Saint Mary’s at this joyous occasion. The Cathedral is located at 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.
THE ENTHRONEMENT OF AN ARCHBISHOP . . . The enthronement of the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will take place at Canterbury Cathedral, England, on February 27 at 3 p.m. The service is to be “webcast” worldwide by the BBC. The BBC is negotiating to archive the webcast and keep it online so that viewers can view the service at their convenience, especially if they cannot watch it during the live event. As of February 14, the BBC reports that the service will not be broadcast in the USA, though there is a possibility that C-Span may carry the program. Check your local C-Span schedule for more information. For updated information about the webcast, see
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany
Monday Saint Matthias the Apostle
Thursday George Herbert, priest
Friday Weekday Abstinence
Saturday David, bishop
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Matthew Weiler, curate, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assistant,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priest, The Reverend Robert Rhodes, assisting deacon,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.