More and more people I know have now seen Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ. A friend and his wife who took their fifteen year-old daughter to see the movie regretted it. He said, “It isn’t an ‘R’ movie; it’s an ‘NC-17’.” I asked someone whether the movie shows the crucified Jesus naked or wearing a loincloth. I was told that in the movie he is shown with a loincloth, as he almost always is in art. Of course, in reality he almost certainly was stripped while being scourged and again before he was nailed to the cross. (Clothing a victim after flogging allowed for another level of violence: ripping fabric from wounds reopens them.) One might wonder why the violence was somehow acceptable and the nakedness of Jesus was not acceptable for Mr. Gibson. What truth is truth for him or for us?
I still haven’t seen the movie and probably won’t until it is available on DVD or videotape, maybe never. At present, I don’t think I want to see the horrible violence and cruelty that Mr. Gibson’s artistic and religious vision depicts. It is an incomplete vision of history and of God.
The season of Lent brings before us the Good News of Jesus Christ. The integrity of the liturgical tradition here at Saint Mary’s makes sense, I believe, because you and I are trying to be a community of people who live out the Gospel in our daily lives. Daily you and I are learning to relate to our God and to each other. Daily we can learn to see more of the truth of our own selves and to trust more in the providence of the Lord. You and I probably can live more simply. Lent is a good time to renew Christian habits and practices including Bible reading, prayer, confession and fasting.
I suspect I am not the only person who misses one particular command that was a feature in “WordPerfect” - a word processing program. The command was called “reveal codes.” One could see all of the formatting in a document, what was truly there. What works in a computer program may not work with our interactions with others. Considering this from a human perspective, I don’t know that it has ever been very helpful to me for other people to tell me what’s wrong with me. Nor do I think I am ever helpful to others when I decide to share with someone what I think is wrong with him or her. Lent is about the new life God offers us at Easter. It’s a big life and it takes a lot to get ready to receive God’s gift. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Jane, 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 and Colin.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . March 15: 1969 Peter Chan; March 18: 1947 Howard Noble Place, 1965 Mary Louise Barreaux; March 20: 1965 Karl Irving Bennett.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Exodus 3:1-15, Psalm 103:1-11, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:1-9 . . . On Sunday, March 14, Father Beddingfield will be celebrant and preacher for the 9:00 AM Mass. The Rector will be celebrant and preacher for the 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Masses. Father Beddingfield will also preach at Solemn Evensong . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, March 20, by Father Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Annual Meeting of the Congregation will be held on Sunday, March 21, following the 11:00 AM Mass . . . Many thanks to Father Jay Smith who assisted at weekday Masses while Father Beddingfield was away . . . Father Beddingfield’s course entitled “Sand in our Shoes: The Theology and Practice of Christian Spirituality” continues on Monday nights. For more information on the five-week course, call the parish office . . . Please remember: Walking The Way: The Body In Christian Spirituality, a quiet day for Lent, will be held on Saturday, March 20, 2004 at Saint Bartholomew’s Church, Park Avenue at 51st Street, 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM. For more information please contact our parish office . . . The Board of Trustees meets on Monday, March 15, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . Attendance last Sunday 268.
WELCOME, FATHER MONTGOMERY . . . The Reverend Ian Bruce Montgomery, who at the Episcopal Church Foundation works with parish churches and other church related institutions in the field of endowment investment management, is joining us as an assistant priest. Father Montgomery will be with us on some Sundays each month and on will assist with weekday Offices and Masses. He did his undergraduate work at the Universities of St. Andrews and Pittsburgh and is a graduate of the General Theological Seminary where he developed his deep respect and love for the way the liturgy is expressed at St. Mary’s through frequent visits with us on feast days. He is a priest of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, having served as canon pastor at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Paris before which he was Curate at St. George’s by the River in Rumson, New Jersey and Seminarian Assistant at the Church of the Ascension here in Manhattan. He has two children, Charlie and Anna. He and Father Beddingfield are friends from their days at General and it is a pleasure to welcome him to our parish. S.G.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . This week at the Solemn Mass, the setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Secunda by Hans Leo Hassler (1562-1612). Though he was Protestant, Hassler, a student in Venice of Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1510-1586), wrote a good amount of Latin music for Roman Catholic liturgy (in addition to madrigals, keyboard music and instrumental music). This Mass setting is one of his most popular and is admired for its beauty and brevity. The motet at Communion is Tristis est anima mea (a setting of one of the Tenebrae responsories) by Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594), who greatly influenced Hassler.
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday The Third Sunday in Lent
Monday Weekday of Lent
Tuesday Weekday of Lent
Wednesday Weekday of Lent
Thursday Weekday of Lent
Eve of Saint Joseph’s Day 6:00 PM
Friday Saint Joseph’s Day Lenten Friday Abstinence
Saturday Weekday of Lent
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend John Beddingfield, curate,
The Reverend Ian B. Montgomery, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.