The Angelus

Volume 6, Number 15

Language of Lent

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent but it doesn’t feel that way to me.  There is an energy here in the city bound up with the desire of people to receive the imposition of ashes.  It makes the day unique in its spirituality.  For me, the language of Lent really kicks in on the First Sunday in Lent.  Again, it’s not that Lent is unobserved here on Ash Wednesday!  But one is too preoccupied to notice.  On Sunday, it is very obvious.  For me, more than anything else the absence of music has come to be the primary language of Lent.

The suppression of organ and instrumental music during Lent except to support hymn singing (our practice) is not mentioned in the Prayer Book or the Hymnal as far as I know.  I believe it is one of the many practices Anglo-catholics have adopted from contemporary Roman Catholic usage (a usage that I suspect in this case reflects a more ancient pattern of worship).  There is a lot of silence during Mass and Evensong.  I know that for me this practice like no other reminds me of the journey Christ made to his death and resurrection, the journey we have shared going to the font.

Yesterday while I was at my desk, I heard Robert McCormick practicing the postlude for the Easter Vigil.  It is one of my favorite pieces, Choral-Improvisation sur le “Victimae paschali” by Charles Tournemire, reconstructed by Maurice Duruflé.  He played the last few pages of the piece for me while I turned pages for him.  I feel as if souls are released from purgatory every time this piece is played on this organ – and it doesn’t sound quite so thrilling on any organ but ours.   I can hardly wait for Easter.

In the meantime, the silence of Lent should help us sort through some things, spiritual and material.  Lent can remind us of what matters in our lives, of what we believe about God and life and Christ.  I invite you to let the language of Lent that shapes our life at Saint Mary’s help shape your daily life.  Read the Bible.  Pray.  Come to Mass.  Come to a Daily Office.  Give up something.  Give something to someone who needs it.  Repent of your sins.  Refrain from judging the world.  Even in Lent, as Saint Paul urged the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”  Stephen Gerth


PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Gilbert, William, Joseph, Jean, Lynn, Nancy, Margaret, Kristina, Mabel, Robert, Gloria, Jason, Harold, Billie, Matthew, Virginia, Bart, Margaret, Marion, Hugh, Rick, and Charles, priest, and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Jonathan, Jeffrey, Ned, Timothy, Patrick, Kevin, Christopher, Andrew, Joseph, Marc, Timothy, David, Colin and for the repose of the soul of Jean.


GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 9: 1951 Lenore H. Hibbard, 1965 Carolyn Elizabeth Allen; March 10: 1962 John S. Jarvis Beach, 1989 Marion Campbell Jr.; March 11: 1994 Virginia Greene; March 12: 1961 Muriel Iola Dorothy Blaine.


LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, Psalm 27:10-18, Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:22-35 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, March 6 by Father Gerth . . . On Saturday March 13, Mass will be said at 8:30 AM.  There will be no midday services or confessions.  As usual, though, confessions will be heard at 4:00 PM by Father Gerth.  Evening Prayer will be said at 5:00 PM.


AROUND THE PARISH . . . We welcome the Reverend Kenneth R. Dimmick as our guest preacher at Evensong this Sunday.  Father Dimmick serves as associate rector of Palmer Memorial Church in Houston, Texas.  Father will also be assisting at the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass while Father Beddingfield is away . . . Bill Poston is home from the hospital and is doing well.  Please keep him in your prayers . . . Many thanks to Sean Cassidy for work on the requiem candlesticks and processional cross! . . . Thanks to George Handy and all of the ushers for their work on Ash Wednesday . . . March 8 is John Beddingfields anniversary of ordination to the diaconate . . . Plan Ahead: Sunday, March 14, will be our intern Andrew Kraebel’s last Sunday with us.  Please be here to say farewell . . . Attendance last Sunday 232.


NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This week at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa ‘Le bien que j’ay’ by Claude Goudimel (c. 1514-1572).  This parody Mass (a Mass setting based upon another piece of music) takes as its model the chanson Le bien que j’ay by Jacques Arcadelt (?1505-1568).  Goudimel, a French composer once believed to have been Palestrina’s teacher (now this is known not to be so), may be known best for his psalm settings, which became greatly used in the Reformed tradition.  He also wrote numerous chansons, motets and Masses.  The motet at Communion is Eripe me de inimicis meis by Andreas Raselius (c. 1563-1602).


CHRISTIAN FORMATION IN MARCH . . . This Lent, on Monday evenings, you’re invited to take advantage of a class offered at Saint Mary’s through the Center for Christian Studies, a program of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.  Father Beddingfield is teaching a course entitled “Sand in our Shoes: The Theology and Practice of Christian Spirituality.”  For more information on the five-week course, call the parish office, see the booklet at the back of the church or visit online at


A LENTEN QUIET DAY . . .Walking The Way: The Body In Christian Spirituality will be held on Saturday, March 20, 2004.  The day is co-sponsored by Saint Bartholomew’s Church, The Diocese of New York Spirituality Committee, and The Center of Christian Spirituality of General Theological Seminary.  It will be held at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Park Avenue at 51st Street, 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM.  The day will include a talk by the Rev. Dr. Anne Brewer, physician and priest.  Workshops include Taoist & Christian Embodied Spiritual Practice (Dr. Elisabeth Koenig), Using the Voice and the Body to Pray the Psalms (The Rev. Canon Tom Miller), Reclaiming the Body as God’s Beloved: A Workshop for Women (Ms. Hondi Brasco), Saint Dominic’s Nine Postures of Prayer (The Rev. John Beddingfield), and more on Walking the Labyrinth, Practicing Centering Prayer, and Yoga.  The cost is $35.00 per registrant, which includes lunch provided by Café St. Barts.  Register by calling St. Bart’s Central at 212-378-0222 or online at

The Calendar of the Week

Sunday                 The Second Sunday in Lent

Monday                     Weekday of Lent

Tuesday                     Weekday of Lent

Wednesday               Weekday of Lent

Thursday                  Weekday of Lent

Friday                        Weekday of Lent                                 Lenten Friday Abstinence

Saturday                   Weekday of Lent



The Parish Clergy

The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,

The Reverend John Beddingfield, curate,

The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priest,

The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.