Faith of our Fathers
There are many wonderful ironies in life. One of the great church hymn ironies is the use of the hymn “Faith of our fathers! living still” by Protestant Christians. The text is by Frederick William Faber (1814-1863). Ordained in the Church of England in 1837, he became a Roman Catholic in 1845. This was one of his early hymns as a Roman Catholic. The “faith” of which the hymn speaks is Roman Catholicism which still survived in England “in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword.” The original verse three (always omitted from our Hymnal) reads:
Faith of our fathers! Mary’s prayers
Shall win our country back to thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
England shall then indeed be free.
A much better hymn by Faber, in my opinion, is the text we know as “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy.” Most of the text is usually not included in the different versions which are still sung. Most interesting to me is that no published text after the original includes what for me is a really useful quatrain,
But we make his love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify his strictness
With a zeal he will not own.
It is easy to think of Jesus’ encounter with those ready to stone the woman caught in adultery. His simple words continue to measure and judge the actions of people today, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). One also thinks of the many times Jesus sat down with the “wrong” people, “And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:30-32).
Although the setting out of rules and the following of rules has a certain attraction for me, I know I am protected in life by people and a God with generous hearts. I know usually I am more generous with others when my heart is open to possibilities than when I feel bound by rules to act a certain way or judge a certain way. Rules have utility but not when they exist for themselves, not if they are rules the Good Shepherd would not bother to notice.
This spring, my meditations have been influenced by rereading a commentary on John by the late Raymond Brown. The last chapter of John’s gospel records Jesus’ encounter with Peter and his repeated instruction to Peter, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17). The sheep always belong to Jesus in John’s gospel. They only hear Jesus’ voice. Jesus is the only shepherd. There is one voice for you and me to listen for in our lives, the voice of Jesus. This is the faith of our fathers. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Alice, William, Billie, Jonah, Gracie, Susan, John, Michael, Lois, Virginia, Bart, Brett, Nicole, Jack, Thomas, Annie, Patricia, Paul, Robert, Gloria, Jerri, Margaret, Marion, Olga, Rick, and Charles, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Timothy, Jonathan, Patrick, Edward, Keith, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Mark, Ned, Timothy, David, John and Colin.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 21: 1963 Frederick Webb Ross; July 22: 1960 Mary Waters.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 57:14b-21, Psalm 22:22-30, Ephesians 2:11-22, Mark 6:30-44 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 19, by Father Smith, and on Saturday, July 26, by Father Gerth.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This week at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Von Gott will ich nicht lassen, BuxWV 220, and the postlude is Von Gott will ich nicht lassen, BuxWV 221, both by Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707). Buxtehude was one of the most important composers of the Baroque period, and he had a great influence on J. S. Bach. Our soloist is Mr. Joseph Chappel, bass-baritone. Though Mr. Chappel is not a regular member of our choir, he sings with us often. Most Sundays he may be heard at Holy Trinity Church (Lutheran), particularly in their Bach Vespers series. The piece at Communion is For know ye not that ye are his temple from Saint Paul by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . We welcome back Father Smith from most of his summer holiday. He will also be away for a few days after Assumption. Father Weiler is now on vacation. He returns to the parish on Sunday, August 10. His last day with us before returning to Yale will be Friday, August 15 . . . AVE is almost ready. We are publishing a commemorative issue that contains sermons and photographs from the Triduum. Your patience is appreciated and we believe will be rewarded! . . . Attendance last Sunday 231.
MEMBERSHIP NOTES . . . This week the parish office received the canonical letter of transfer for Thomas Farrell, formalizing his relationship with us and making him our newest church member. Some years ago, Thomas was a member of Saint Mary’s, but then moved out of the city. He is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary and will be continuing his studies at General Seminary. In the fall, he will teach a world religions class at Seton Hall University. Please welcome Thomas when you see him.
VESTMENT FUND APPEAL . . . As we go to press, $ 12,735.81 has been received. $15,000.00 is needed. Please make your checks payable to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and mark the check for “vestments.” Money is needed both for new vestments and for the conservation of old vestments. Thank you very much!
FOR OUR LADY . . . On Saturday, August 9, willing hands are needed from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM to polish brass and to prepare for our celebration of the Assumption. It’s usually a lot of fun. Some think there's nothing more invigorating than the smell of Brasso on an August morning!
HELP WITH COFFEE HOUR . . . A small group of people has been sharing responsibility for the coffee time following the 10 AM Sung Mass on Sundays. Several of the group have had a change in schedules and are no longer able to help as frequently. Please consider being a part of the 10 AM Coffee Hour Team. If you are interested in helping, whether by preparing goodies at home and bringing them, serving as a host or hostess for the thirty minutes or so needed, or contributing in some other way, please call the parish office or speak with Penny Byham or Father Beddingfield.
HELP WITH CHILDCARE DURING MASS . . . Yes, you read that correctly. We have children at Saint Mary’s! During both the Sung Mass and the Solemn Mass the small but friendly nursery is open, on the 47th Street side of the building, next to the sacristy. This is a very happy “problem” to have, but we do need a few more people who can help the volunteers with the kids. Again, if you can help, call the parish office or speak with Penny Byham or Father Beddingfield.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Eve of Saint Mary Magdalene 6:00 PM
Tuesday Saint Mary Magdalene
Thursday Thomas a Kempis, priest
Eve of Saint James 6:00 PM
Friday Saint James the Apostle Abstinence
Saturday The Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Matthew Weiler, The Reverend John Beddingfield, curates,
The Reverend James Ross Smith, assistant, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priest,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.