More is Better
This past Sunday’s celebration of the Feast of Dedication was great. A lot of things go into making such a day so powerful at Saint Mary’s. It’s a day when it is so easy to see the hard and committed work of those who are here and of those who were here before us.
Last week I was in New Haven at the Berkeley Divinity School to visit our next curate, Matthew Mead. I met a priest on their faculty who asked me to describe Saint Mary’s. It’s not easy to do in a few sentences even to a fellow member of the clergy. Saint Mary’s is an intensely liturgical parish community. There is a splendor and integrity to worship here that is almost unique. It’s a way of life and prayer that changes lives and witnesses to God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.
One of the members of our parish has a link on his personal web page to Saint Mary’s under the title, “More is Better.” I was delighted when I saw that. Because “over the top” is the way to describe lots of things about this parish. Despite Jesus’ explicit instructions, people who were healed and saved by him could not keep quiet. I think Saint Mary’s is the way it is because people here have not been able to keep quiet about their love for Christ. The particular way we express our thanks is through worship.
This is my introduction to asking for more money for vestments. The newer rites, it seems, need more not fewer vestments in a place like Saint Mary’s. Among the reasons both the Solemn Mass and Solemn Evensong & Benediction were so wonderful last Sunday was that we had the right number of vestments. For those of you who were not here, we used the Hyland Memorial Gold set. This set has five chasubles, three dalmatics and five copes. During the day, we used all but two of the dalmatics. Saint Mary’s is a liturgical space where rich vesture looks right.
We’ve made a good beginning with the new green set. We have three chasubles (the Mass vestment of priests and bishops, one dalmatic (the Mass and solemn Office vestment of a deacon), and four stoles (worn by all the ordained, bishops, priests and deacons). We also have a veil for the high altar tabernacle and a burse and veil for the chalice, paten and linens that go with them. This week a parishioner has given us a gift for a new frontal for this set. More is needed. Frankly, I hope very much that enough will be given so that this set can have at a total of five chasubles, three dalmatics and five copes.
As I said, a gift for a new frontal has just been received as a memorial. General donations are most welcome but the gift of a vestment as a particular memorial is a wonderful thing too. When a single vestment is given as a memorial, we can have a special label made that will be sewn into the vestment to mark it.
I suspect that just as everyone who has been here for a Solemn Mass knows why we value music so highly – the building is just an extraordinary space for music – everyone who was here last Sunday knows why great vestments are needed for the liturgy.
I hesitate to state a total of how much money is needed for vesture. Round numbers: Each copes for the new green set is $3,000.00, each chasuble and dalmatic with a stole is $2,200.00. This is a lot. I know it. Great vestments enrich our rite immeasurably. And in this building at 145 West 46th Street only great vesture really looks right. If we had a less rich tradition, a less rich building, a less rich liturgy it would demand a lot less of us. Here, more truly is better. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Francis and Hazard who are hospitalized, and for Edward, Jason, Bernard, Harold, Louise, Gates, Harold, Billie, Susan, John, 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 . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 15: 1957 Lynda Beatrice Roberts; 1971 Florence F. Scheftel; 1987 Harold Polit.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Amos 5:6-7,10-15, Psalm 90:1-8,12, James: 4:7-5:6, Hebrews: 3:1-6, Mark 10:17-27(28-31) . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, October 11 and on Saturday, October 18 by Father Beddingfield.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This week at the Sung Mass, played by assistant organist Robert McDermitt, the prelude is Lied from 24 Pièces en style libre, Op. 31, No. 17 by Louis Vierne (1870-1937) and the postlude is Prelude to ‘Te Deum’ by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1645-1704) . . . At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Rhapsody for the 12th day of any October from Partita by Herbert Howells (1892-1983). This piece was written in honor of Ralph Vaughan Williams; October 12 was his birthday. The postlude is Prelude on ‘Old 113th’ by Gerald Near (b. 1942). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa orbis factor by Near. Gerald Near, a student of famed composer Leo Sowerby (1895-1968), is one of the most prolific American composers of quality liturgical music, both organ and choral, alive today. This Mass setting for choir and organ quotes the plainsong Missa orbis factor throughout, and embellishes and expands upon those themes. The work is very much in the same vein as Maurice Duruflé’s Messe de Requiem and Messe cum jubilo. The anthem at Communion is Lay up for yourselves by Ned Rorem (b. 1923). Rorem (also a student of Sowerby), one of the great American composers of this century, celebrates his 80th birthday on October 23 . . . We continue our weekly series of organ recitals at 4:40 PM. This week, Mr. Andrew Senn will play works of Liszt, Vierne and Widor. Mr. Senn currently is the assistant organist at Saint Peter’s Church, Morristown, New Jersey.
NEW TO SAINT MARY’S? . . . Beginning with dinner in the rectory on October 28, we will offer a special series for those wanting to learn more about Saint Mary’s and the Christian faith. This class will also meet on November 4 and on November 11, and will be particularly helpful for those wishing to be baptized or confirmed, as well as others who desire to join the parish. Curious about Saint Mary’s? Please consider coming to one or all of these evenings. Dinner is at 7:00 PM and the discussion, led by Father Gerth and Father Beddingfield, will go from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM. RSVP for dinner at 212-869-5830 or by e-mail to email@example.com.
TERESA OF AVILA: TWO WEDNESDAY EVENINGS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . On October 15 and October 22 the Christian Formation series will focus on the life and writings of Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). Come and learn about this amazing woman’s life and explore some of what she taught concerning the life of prayer. The class meets after Mass from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . October 29 begins our journey through the Wisdom Literature, led by Joseph Pearson, a parishioner and professor of medieval theology at Fordham University.
HELP IS NEEDED AT THANKSGIVING . . . Common Ground Community is an organization that seeks to help the homeless. On December 1, Saint Mary’s will host a benefit concert for Common Ground. Before then, volunteers are needed to help with two Thanksgiving dinners at The Prince George, located at 14 East 28th Street, between 5th and Madison Avenues. The Prince George contains 416 permanent apartments, 50% of which are for low-income working people and 50% of which are for the formerly homeless with special needs such as mental illness, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse issues. The two dinners will be held on Monday, November 24 and Tuesday, November 25. There are two volunteer shifts for each dinner: shift one, 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM and shift two, 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM. Fifteen volunteers are needed for each shift, on each day. If you are interested in helping, please call Father Beddingfield at 212-869-5830, extension 17 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
AROUND THE PARISH . . Father Beddingfield will be away Monday, October 13 through Wednesday, October 15 attending a Leadership in Ministry workshop in Holyoke, Massachusetts . . . The Women and Spirituality group meets this Tuesday, October 14, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study. This group for women studies the upcoming lectionary passages through lectio divina and meets the second Tuesday of each month . . . Altar flowers are needed for October 19 and 26 . . . Attendance last Sunday 335.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Tuesday Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschrewsky, bishop
Wednesday Teresa of Avila, nun
Friday Ignatius, bishop Abstinence
Eve of Saint Luke’s Day 6:00 PM
Saturday Saint Luke the Evangelist
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, curate,
The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priest, The Reverend John Kilgore, assisting deacon,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.