Christ the King
I was making a short retreat at Saint Gregory’s Abbey when I met a priest who had been a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission in 1976. The adoption of a new Prayer Book requires the action of two successive General Conventions. The 1979 Prayer Book, the one we have today, had to be complete by a date and time certain during the 1976 General Convention. The priest told me they stayed up through the night working on final touches, cleaning up logical inconsistencies. The sun rose. The work stopped.
There are so many questions one might have of people who worked on the Prayer Book. One very minor one is the decision not to adopt formally the title “Christ the King” for the Last Sunday after Pentecost. This is the Collect of the Day. These are the Lessons. Pope Pius XI invented the feast in 1925. The Lutherans call it this. Everyone I know calls it this. The work of committees generally results in certain anomalies, or was everyone just tired?
Over the three-year period of the Lectionary Roman Catholics have three different gospels. We have these three and two additional options. Why? I have no idea. All of the lessons are read at different and significant points through the three-year cycle. One of the quiet but significant fruits of the ecumenical work on the Lectionary is that most Sundays most Christians hear the same lessons at Mass. The ecumenical choice for this year is a passage from Jesus’ encounter with Pilate from John’s Gospel. Our option is the Palm Sunday entrance from Mark’s Gospel. At Saint Mary’s we will be using the passage from John.
The most satisfactory gospel lesson for this feast, in my opinion, is the one we hear in the A Cycle. (We are at the end of the B Cycle now.) It is the passage from the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew that is called “The Great Judgment.” Jesus speaks of the “son of man” and goes on to describe him as a “king” sitting on his throne. The king welcomes those who fed and clothed and visited him into a kingdom prepared for them “from the foundation of the world.” The king sends to “eternal fire” those who never clothed or fed him. The question from both groups is when did they do or not do this. Jesus says, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:40).
I have been thinking about what this passage says about our relationships with each other within the Church, how we look upon each other, how we speak to each other, how we speak about each other. The early Church had a strong sense of being bound to one another. The words of Scripture and of the liturgy presume a close familial relationship among the baptized, the living and the dead. In some significant way I believe you and I are to experience the presence of other members of our Christian community as our family. Christianity is a public and communal religion. Yes, there are private and personal experiences as Christian people. But, these flow from and grow out of the Lord’s revelation of himself as the Christ.
All of us need God’s mercy because we have passed on the street those whom we did not stop to help. One way we may learn how to help those whom we do not know is to try to know those whom we do know. In many ways our parish community is already a place where anyone who calls this place their church home is not afraid to speak, to smile, to welcome, to introduce himself or herself to another member of Christ’s family. This isn’t just a matter of personality. It’s a matter of fundamental Christian faith. At judgment day the King is asked, “Lord, when did we see thee and not speak to thee?” Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for William, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Harold, Billie, John, Michael, Virginia, Bart, Margaret, Marion, Hugh, Rick, Mary Angela, religious, and Charles, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Ned, Timothy, Patrick, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Marc, Timothy, David, and Colin and for the repose of the soul of Loretta . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 23: 1976 Calvin R. Gray, 1985 Gary R. Grubb; November 24: 1950 Harlan S Perrigo, 1957 Frederick Delius, 1989 Aurora Emralda Van Heyningen; November 26: 1998 Ronald L. Cox.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Daniel 7:9-14, Psalm 93, Revelations 1: 1-8, John 18:33-37 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, November 22, by Father Beddingfield . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, November 29, by Father Gerth.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This week at the Sung Mass, played by associate organist Robert McDermitt, the prelude is Air in D from Suite No. 3, BWV 1068 by J. S. Bach (1685-1750) and the postlude is Trumpet Tune in C by David N. Johnson (1922-1987) . . . At the Solemn Mass, the prelude is Prelude on ‘Hyfrydol’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) and the postlude is Paean by Herbert Howells (1892-1983). The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Aedis Christi’ by Howells. The Latin title means “Mass of the House of Christ”, and this setting was composed in 1958 for the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. It is a hauntingly beautiful setting, and though set for 4-part choir, it frequently splits into 6 and 7 parts, giving the texture a rich and full sound. Sadly, this Mass setting is not heard frequently, perhaps due to its difficulty. The motet at Communion is Gloria laus by Christopher Tye (c. 1505-c. 1572). It is a setting (in Latin) of the text we know as “All glory, laud and honor”, sung on Palm Sunday. The text seems appropriate for Christ the King, as well: “You are the King of Israel, of David’s royal lineage” . . . We continue our weekly series of organ recitals at 4:40. This week, Mr. Mitchell Weisiger will play works of Buxtehude and Elgar. Mr. Weisiger is the organist of Saint Bartholomew’s Roman Catholic Church in East Brunswick, New Jersey.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminder: The Bishop of New York will be our preacher at Solemn Evensong on Sunday, November 30, the First Sunday of Advent . . . The Wednesday night Christian Formation class will not meet on the eve of Thanksgiving. The next class will be on Wednesday, December 3, following the 6:20 PM Mass. Ms. Joan Baldridge leads us in a study of Mary Magdalene in art history. The class will meet again on December 10 . . . AIDS Action International needs help gathering gifts for approximately 2000 children and adults who are living with HIV/AIDS. UNWRAPPED holiday gifts for children, teenagers and adults should be placed in the marked box in Saint Joseph’s Hall. They will be taken to the Cathedral on December 3 for the Saint Nicholas Celebration . . . The Saint Vincent’s Guild of altar servers invites all its members and friends for a morning of brass cleaning and candle trimming, Saturday, December 13, beginning at 10:00 AM. Come smell the Brasso and join the fun . . . 2004 Ordo Calendars are here and will be available in Saint Joseph’s Hall after the Solemn Mass on Sunday . . . Attendance last Sunday 308.
THANKSGIVING SCHEDULE . . . There will be a Sung Mass on Wednesday, November 25, at 6:00 PM. On Thanksgiving Day, Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
ADVENT QUIET DAY - DECEMBER 6 . . . A “quiet day” is a kind of mini-retreat, but instead of going away to some place outside the city, we simply come into church and pause in place. This year’s Advent Quiet Day will be led by Father Beddingfield and will focus on the three Mary’s who figure prominently in the life of Jesus: Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, and Mary the Mother of Jesus. The Quiet Day begins at 9:30 AM in Saint Joseph’s Hall with coffee and tea. At 10:00 AM, we begin the first meditation in the Saint Joseph Chapel (on the right side of the church). The Noonday Office and Mass will be celebrated at the High Altar, after which there will be a light lunch served in silence in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The day will conclude around 3:00 PM. Please call the parish office to sign up for the day, so that we know what sort of lunch should be prepared.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Solemnity of Christ the King
Tuesday James Otis Sargent Huntington, priest and religious
Sung Mass 6:00 PM
Thursday Thanksgiving Day
Friday Kamehameha & Emma, king & queen Abstinence
Saturday Cecilia, virgin & martyr
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.