Holy Cross Day 2003
For liturgical Christians in the United States and elsewhere, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, August 6, does not stand by itself. August 6 is the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The mystery of war and victory is with us on that day whether the preacher mentions it or not. I cannot hear the gospel account of the Lord being transfigured by light without remembering how terrible and high the cost of peace in this world is.
The national day of prayer after September 11, 2001 was a Friday. It happened to be Holy Cross Day. The gospel for the Sunday after September 11 included Luke’s account of the Parable of the Found Sheep (Luke 15:3-7). I can put the evil tragedy of September 11 out of my mind most of the time, but when I think of Holy Cross Day and when I think of the Good Shepherd, I think of the attack on my city and country. I think of the ruins at Ground Zero that burned for ninety-nine days. I have to stop the memories. I just can’t go there; I don’t know that I ever will really go there again. It’s too hard. I can’t remember the great good without the horror of the great evil.
I’m still afraid in a way that I was never in my life afraid before this date. I’m sure I am not alone in this. But, if there is a problem, there is no place I would rather be than New York City because I know that nowhere could anyone be more courageous, more sacrificial or more caring. My parish community too is very much a place of that kind of the love and generosity. I know this. I am here.
This Sunday Holy Cross Day is celebrated. It’s not a little Good Friday. Another good title for the day is the “Triumph of the Holy Cross.” We will be singing hymns of victory at the Solemn Mass. As always, the Church brings before us, out of its treasure, what it old and what is new. Christ’s death and resurrection is the hope that sustains the Church through the evil it must still face. There are days for mourning. Holy Cross Day is a day to remind ourselves of Christ’s victory in our time over death. There are no lost sheep, ever.
I’m going to try very hard to focus my heart on victory on Sunday. Certainly the gathering of God’s people at his Table will help a lot. This year the celebrant and preacher at the Sung and Solemn Masses will be Father Jay Smith. It will be his last Sunday with us. He is returning to New Haven to complete work on his dissertation. This is the second time he’s left us! We will have a special reception after the Solemn Mass on Sunday to say, “See you later.” Father, you are deeply loved as a pastor and priest at Saint Mary’s. We are not saying goodbye as we hope very, very much that the Lord will send him back to us in the future.
During the Sunday morning Masses a relic of the True Cross will be reposed in the sanctuary near the altar. During the final hymn of the Solemn Mass, “Lift high the Cross,” the relic will be carried in procession to the Lady Chapel. You may come immediately following the Mass to venerate and to pray.
Daily the Church proclaims its belief in the resurrection of the body and in the communion of saints. In a real sense we are always in communion with all who live in Christ, the living and the dead. This is the Father’s love for us. We are always with him through his Son in the power of the Spirit. I hope you can be here on Sunday to share in this celebration of the Holy Cross and to rejoice with Father Smith. It will be great. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Francis and Hazard who are hospitalized, Harold, Louise, Gates, Harold, Billie, Susan, Joan, Michael, Virginia, Bart, Brett, Nicole, Jack, Thomas, Annie, Patricia, Paul, Robert, Gloria, Jerri, Margaret, Marion, Rick, and Charles, priest, Gregory, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty especially Ned, Timothy, Patrick, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Marc, Timothy, David, John and Colin.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:10-12 Psalm 40:5-11, 1 Corinthians 1:18-24, John 12:23-33 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, September 13, by Father Gerth.
OUR SCHEDULE FOR SEPTEMBER 20 . . . Father John Beddingfield will be ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral on Saturday, September 20, at 10:30 AM. His first celebration of the Eucharist as a priest will be the Solemn Mass on Sunday, September 21, at 11:00 AM. So that we all may be at the Cathedral for the ordination, there will only be two services at Saint Mary’s on September 20, Mass at 8:30 AM and Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM. Confessions will not be heard on September 20 except by appointment.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This week at the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Prelude on ‘Rockingham’ by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918) and the postlude is Allegro con brio in B-flat Major by Frank Bridge (1879-1941). The prelude is based upon Sunday’s Postcommunion hymn. Our soloist is Ms. Karen Coker, soprano. Ms. Coker has been singing in our choir for the last two years, and will continue to do so when possible with her burgeoning opera career. She was heard this past spring in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with the Baltimore Opera, and is looking forward to numerous future engagements. The solo at Communion is Domine Deus from Gloria by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741).
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Many thanks to all who helped with the services commemorating September 11, 2001 . . . The Rector leaves Sunday afternoon, September 14, to attend a Family Systems Theory class in Lost River, West Virginia. He returns to the city on Wednesday evening . . . Many thanks to Father Smith who will be taking most of the Masses while the Rector is away and to Bishop Grein who is celebrating the evening Mass on Tuesday, September 16 . . . The fall parish retreat will be held at Mount Saviour Monastery, near Elmira, New York, www.msaviour.org, Saturday, November 8, through Tuesday, November 11, Veteran's Day. The retreat topic is “Sheep May Safely Graze.” The maximum number of participants is fifteen. E-mail reservations or questions to email@example.com . . . One may wonder why there are course catalogues in the back of the church for the Center for Christian Studies. The reason is on page 20: Father Beddingfield will be teaching a course and Saint Mary’s will be hosting the course in Saint Joseph’s Hall in March 2004. For more information http://www.christianstudies.org/. Attendance last Sunday 233.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday Holy Cross Day
Tuesday Ninian, bishop
Wednesday Hildegard, abbess
Thursday Edward Pusey, priest
Friday Theodore, archbishop Abstinence
Saturday John Patteson, bishop, and his Companions, martyrs
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, curate, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assistant,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priest, The Reverend John Kilgore, assisting deacon,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.